Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Question Answered (Siraaj-ud-Deen Eesaee Kay Chaar
> Question # 1: How Salvation is
Books Section > by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian > Four Question Answered (Siraaj-ud-Deen Eesaee Kay Chaar Swaalon Kay Jawaab) > Question # 1: How Salvation is Attained
# 1: How Salvation is
Question: According to the Christian belief, Christ came to the world for the love of mankind and to offer himself as sacrifice for its sake. Can the mission of the Founder of Islam be described in similar terms? Or can his mission be described in words even better than 'love' and 'sacrifice'?
The Holy Quran states explicitly: "That no bearer of a burden bears another's burden" (53:38). According to the teachings of the Quran, deeds are the basis of reward and punishment.
Before I explain the Quranic teachings about salvation, I consider it essential to expose the errors in the Christian doctrine. This would facilitate comparison for those desirous of doing a comparative study between the Christian and Muslim teachings on the subject of salvation.
1. Love of God.
2. Istighfar, which literally means the desire to suppress or cover sin. In the analogy of the tree given above, if the tree is firmly rooted, there is always the hope of a new foliage. (For a person who seeks forgiveness of Allah, there is the hope of a new spiritual life.)
3. Taubah or repentance, which implies vigorously searching for the elixir of life by turning to Allah, exerting to get near to Him, and extricating oneself from the web of sin by performing acts of virtue. Real repentance is not just a verbal confession of sin but a change to righteous behaviour in which all acts of virtue are done to enhance the efficacy of repentance. Thus, the essence of repentance is the desire to get close to God. Prayer is also repentance because with it, too, we seek nearness to God. Consequently, when God gave life to man, He named his spirit Ruh, which implies that it's real pleasure and comfort is derived from accepting, loving and submitting to God, and He named his soul nafs [The dictionary meaning of nafs is "the very thing itself".] because of its conformity with God. Man's real happiness lies in the love of God. A person who loves God is like a firmly rooted tree in a garden. Just like the tree sucks in water from the soil and uses it to rid itself of toxic vapours, so also does the man, who has a close association with God, sucks in the water of God's love and with it develops the ability to rid himself of the poison of sin. He receives pure spiritual sustenance from God, thrives, blossoms and brings forth good fruits. Those who are not rooted in God are unable to obtain this life sustaining water. They progressively wither, ultimately the leaves fall off and there remains only the dried up, ugly branches. Since this aridity of sin is a result of severance from God, the simple antidote, to which the laws of nature bear testimony, is the establishment of a firm connection with Him. It is to this that God refers when He states in the Quran:
"O soul that art at rest,
The Christian belief in atonement is regrettable because of the disrespect that it shows to Jesus. In fact, by establishing this principle, the Christian nation is guilty of showing greater disrespect to its prophet than has ever been shown by any other nation to its prophet or messenger. According to the Christian philosophy, the creed that Jesus came to this world for the love of humanity and sacrificed his life for it has meaning only if one believes that Jesus was cursed by the sins of mankind and was crucified on the accursed cross. Thus, it is an integral part of the Christian belief that Jesus was cursed, even if only for three days, and if Jesus is not considered cursed, then the belief in his sacrifice and the consequent salvation collapses. The whole superstructure of this doctrine rests on the accursed Jesus. Consequently, we have previously referred to the sacrifice of Jesus as an accursed sacrifice. Sin caused the curse, and the curse led to the crucifixion. What needs to be ascertained though is whether a righteous person can be considered accursed in any sense?
The Christians consider Jesus as cursed, even if for three or lesser days, but this is a grave error because the term cursed connotes the inner condition of the accursed person. A person is called accursed when he turns away and becomes an enemy of God. Accordingly, the Arabic word la'in (accursed) is the name of Satan and the term la'nah (cursed) means to be cast off from a relationship of favour. The word 'accursed' is used for a person whose heart has strayed far from submission and love of God, and, in reality, such a person has become an enemy of God. All lexicographers accept this as the meaning of the word la'nah (accursed).
Since the belief that Jesus was accursed is thus shown to be erroneous, it follows that a belief in the accursed sacrifice is false too, and merely a concoction of some ignorant persons. If salvation is only achievable by first making Jesus into an angry, satanical rebel, then a curse be on such salvation. It was better for the Christians to accept hell rather than to make a beloved of God into a devil. What a pity that these people have relied upon such absurd and unholy reasoning. On the one hand, they claim he is the son of God, His offshoot and a part of Him and on the other, they brand him as a devil because of being accursed, a characteristic peculiar to the devil. La'in, meaning accursed, is the name of the devil and accursed is one who is an offshoot of the devil, part of the devil and himself a devil. Thus according to the Christian belief, there were two facets of Jesus, one divine, and the other satanical. In the satanical phase, he imbibed the devilish qualities of rebellion, anger, and enmity with God, and thereby merged his personality with the devil. I ask you, Mr. Sirajuddin, to state honestly whether this alleged mission of Jesus is even remotely spiritual or rational. Can there be a worse belief than alleging, merely for the sake of achieving salvation, that a righteous person of God was disobedient to Him, His enemy, and a devil? Why would God, Who is All Powerful and Merciful, need such an accursed sacrifice?
Even the most detailed examination of the Jewish scriptures does not reveal any mention of the accursed sacrifice doctrine. Accordingly, I wrote letters to several Jewish religious scholars and asked them to state under oath the teachings about salvation in the Torah, and whether there is any command to believe in atonement and the sacrifice of God's son? These Jewish scholars have replied that the teachings of the Torah in respect of salvation are in complete accord with those found in the Quran. They have written that the Torah emphasises repeatedly that the way to salvation lies in turning to God, seeking repentance, controlling base desires, doing good deeds for the sake of God, and strictly following all His laws, rules and commands. All the holy prophets of God, they said, have enjoined this teaching and straying away from it occasions God's punishment. Besides their detailed replies, my Jewish correspondents have sent me rare and valuable books on this subject written by their renowned scholars. These books and letters are in my custody and are open for inspection to anyone who so desires. I plan to publish a comprehensive book containing these testimonials.
It behoves a rational and unprejudiced person to question why the Jews would keep this doctrine a secret and steadfastly oppose it if they had prior knowledge that God's ordained method for the salvation of mankind was by the sacrifice of His accursed Son, Jesus. The Jewish teachings were renewed by successive prophets, and Moses expounded the Torah publicly before hundreds of thousands of people. How is it possible then that the Jews could have forgotten this teaching passed on to them through successive prophets when they had been directed to memorise the commandments of God, to teach it to their children and to write it on their doors, frames, and sleeves? Is it conceivable, and can anyone honestly allege that, in spite of these precautions, all the sects of the Jews lost this dear doctrine on which their salvation depended? The Jews have, not only now but from the earliest times, maintained that the doctrine of salvation in the Quran is the same as the doctrine of salvation in the Torah. This was their testimony when the Quran was revealed and this is their testimony now as evident by the letters and books that they have sent to me.
There is absolutely no reason for the Jews to conceal the accursed sacrifice doctrine if they had been informed about it. Conceivably, they could have disputed that Jesus was the ordained son of God, and that his crucifixion was the one decreed for salvation. They could have argued that this was not the real son of God whose sacrifice would lead to salvation and that the real son will appear in some later time. It is inconceivable, however, that all sects of the Jews would totally deny this doctrine that was present in their Books and had been renewed by successive prophets. The Jews, their books and their scholars are all accessible and if anyone has any doubt about the veracity of the above allegation, let him inquire without any hesitation.
Isn't the testimony of the Jews necessary for an intelligent seeker of truth in this matter? Aren't the Jews the first witnesses of the Torah and the ones who memorised it through the centuries? There is not a shred of evidence either in the previous revealed teachings passed down the generations, nor in the later revealed teachings about making a humble man into God and then calling him of the God and also of the Satan. How can pure natured persons accept such an irrational and filthy doctrine?
Facts belie any claim that a belief in this doctrine restrains a person from sin and advances moral purification. According to Christian belief, David believed in the Redemption of Jesus. However, they also allege that subsequent to this belief (we seek refuge in Allah from saying so), David killed an innocent man [II Samuel, 12:9.], committed adultery with the murdered man's wife [II Samuel, 11:4.], misappropriated State funds for personal needs, married one hundred wives, and sinned most audaciously every day, repeating those sins till his last days. If the accursed sacrifice of Jesus can make people desist from sin, then David should not have been so steeped in sin as they allege against him. Similarly, according to the Christian tradition, three ladies from the maternal ancestry of Jesus committed adultery [Matthew's genealogical table of Jesus, and the Old Testament with reference to Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba which, however, we strongly repudiate.]. It is obvious that if a belief in the accursed sacrifice causes internal purification, these ladies from Jesus' own ancestry would not have committed these shameful sins. The disciples of Jesus too, even after their belief, committed shameful acts of sin. Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and Peter cursed him on his face three times, while the rest of the disciples took to their heels. It is obvious that cursing a prophet is a great sin. There is hardly any need to mention the widespread prevalence of fornication and drinking in the Western civilisation. In one of my previous articles, I have referred to news reports from European papers about the adulterous affairs of many reputed Christian priests. It is apparent from all these events that belief in the accursed sacrifice is incapable of delivering man from sin.
It appears that even Paul began to suspect that this was not an appropriate belief. Hence he remarked:
"Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
The statement above suggests that the sacrifice of Jesus is for the first sin and Jesus cannot be crucified a second time. This statement, however, puts Paul in great difficulty. If it is true that the sacrifice of Jesus is only for the first sin, then it follows, for example, that Prophet David will be eternally damned. According to the Christians, he committed adultery with Uriah's wife and kept her in his house, without God's permission, to the end of his life. This lady is from the holy maternal lineage of Mary and a grandmother several generations removed of Jesus. In addition, David had about a hundred wives which, according to the Christians, is not allowable. These sins were not committed just once but were repeated daily.
Since the accursed sacrifice is no immunity against committing sin, it follows that among the Christians too there are many repeat sinners, i.e., persons who sin after their first sin. According to the principle laid down by Paul, sins repeated after the first time are not forgivable and their punishment is eternal damnation.
There is no need to go far in search of an example, Mr. Sirajuddin, just consider your own situation. Mr. Sirajuddin, originally a Muslim, first accepted the son of Mary as the son of God and was baptised into the belief of the accursed sacrifice. Then he came to Qadian and converted back to Islam after affirming that he had been hasty in getting baptised. He began to say the Muslim prayers and acknowledged many times before me that he now understood the absurdity of the doctrine of atonement and considered it false. After his return from Qadian, he was again ensnared into the Christian missionaries' trap and converted yet again to Christianity. This calls for reflection by Mr. Sirajuddin. After being baptised into Christianity, he reneged and by words and actions acted against the Christian faith. This, according to the Christian belief, is a cardinal sin and in line with the saying of Paul, this sin, having been committed for a second time, is unforgivable because it requires a second crucifixion.
It could be argued that Paul was either mistaken or lied outright in curtailing the doctrine of atonement and that, in fact, a belief in the accursed sacrifice nullifies all sins. If this argument is accepted, then such a faith, which has no accountability for any kind of sin, including theft, adultery, lies, murder, and embezzlement, will nurture sinfulness. It will be quite appropriate for the law enforcement agencies to require a guarantee of good behaviour from the followers of a faith that has this belief.
Since this open invitation to sinfulness must, of necessity, be rejected, the only resort is to backtrack to the first argument that a believer in the accursed sacrifice achieves moral purity and deliverance from sin. However, this argument has already been shown to be fallacious and was rebutted with the help of examples from the Christian scriptures about the alleged sins of Prophet David, the grandmothers of Jesus, and the disciples of Jesus. We have also mentioned news reports about the sinful ways of some Christian priests. In addition, all knowledgeable persons are fully aware of the depraved moral condition of the Western civilisation.
Despite the above reasoning, if someone, to make an argument, cites the holy life of a Christian, what is the guarantee that the person is actually sinless? Many scoundrels, embezzlers, adulterers, shameless drunkards and atheists superficially lead lives of apparent purity, but, from within, these men are like sepulchers enclosing nothing but offensive carcasses and bones.
Unless a natural inclination to goodness already exists in a person, a mere conversion to another religion will not create it because the instinctive nature of man created by God does not change. It will have to be admitted by all genuine seekers of truth that nature doles out a basic disposition and religion only provides a framework for the appropriate control and use of this disposition. Thus, some persons have a greater portion of meekness and affection in their disposition and others more of harshness and anger. The role of religion is to divert the fruits of basic goodness, such as love, obedience, sincerity and faithfulness, which idolaters feel for their idols or worshippers of men feel for their incarnate deities, to God and to make such persons show the same obedience to Him as had formerly been shown by them to their deities.
The credit for the level of goodness and civilness in a society cannot automatically be ascribed to the prevalent religion of the community because much of it may be the result of a natural dispensation. The level of civic goodness of a community is, therefore, not a reliable test for the efficacy and truthfulness of a religion. A necessary and sufficient test for this purpose is that there exist in some perfect followers of that religion spiritual excellence unparalleled in followers of other religions. I state with great emphasis that Islam alone meets this test. Islam has propelled thousands of its adherents to that elevated spiritual life where it can be claimed that the spirit of God dwells in them. They accept the light of God and become a manifestation of His splendour. Such people have been found among the Muslims in all centuries and their pure life is not without proof, or merely their own claim, but God gives testimony to it.
Everything is recognised by its distinctive signs, just as a tree is recognised by its fruits. If the claim of a pure life is merely a claim, unsubstantiated by the established signs given in the Scriptures, then such a claim must be considered false. Do the Gospels not mention any signs of true and real belief? Do they not mention these signs to be the gift of the supernatural? Then if the signs of a pious life are given in the Gospels, all Christians that claim to lead a pure life should be measured against these signs. Compare, if you will, a holy Christian clergyman with the humblest Muslim in terms of their spirituality and acceptance of prayers. If the clergyman is found to have even a fraction of the heavenly light of the Muslim, I stand to be contradicted and condemned. To prove this point, I have challenged the Christians many times but they have not responded. I state with total honesty, and with complete conviction, as God is my witness, that true faith and a genuine pious life, born from heavenly light, is not to be found in any faith except Islam. This pure life that I have been granted is not merely my own claim, but is corroborated by heavenly testimonies. Indeed, such a claim can only be verified with such evidence as there is no other way of knowing if the claimant is a hypocrite and a dishonest person. However, when there exist persons whose pure lives are heavenly corroborated, then others in the community that exhibit signs of piety would also be considered genuinely pure. Because the community is an organic whole, a single corroborated example of pure life is sufficient to show that the community is capable of receiving pure spiritual life. [It would be idle to bring in any old story, for all religions have their old tales to relate; what we want for comparison are living instances.]
On this basis, I addressed an announcement to the Christians to resolve this contention conclusively. If they are genuine seekers of truth, they should have responded, but they have not. I repeat the challenge again. Christians and Muslims both lay claim to true faith and purity of life. The issue to be decided is which one of these two communities possesses the true faith and pious life in the eyes of God. The faith of the other community, it follows, is made up of Satanic ideas and its claim to holy life is a mere delusion born of spiritual blindness. I believe that the faith that is corroborated by heavenly testimony and shows signs of acceptance by God is the correct and chosen faith, and, similarly, the pure life is the one that is backed by heavenly signs. All nations of the world claim that persons of great piety have passed and are present among them and their deeds and conduct are cited in support of the claim. However, without the objective test mentioned above, it is not possible to judge the real validity of the claims. Therefore, if the Christians think that belief in the redemption of Christ leads to pure faith and a pious life, then it is incumbent upon them to come forward and enter a contest with me for the acceptance of prayers and manifestation of signs. If their lives are shown to be holy by the test of Heavenly signs, I shall be deserving of every punishment and dishonour.
I emphatically declare that, judged by spiritual standards, Christians lead an extremely unclean life. The Holy God, who is the Lord of Heaven and Earth, abhors their beliefs even as we abhor an extremely dirty and rotten carcass. If they think I am not correct, or that God is not with me in what I say, let them resolve our contention in a rational and civilised manner as stated above. I repeat that the holy life, which descends from Heaven and illumines the heart, is not to be found among the Christians. However, as I have stated before, instinctive goodness of disposition is present in some of them just as it is present in persons of other communities. I am not, however, discussing here this instinctive goodness. Persons endowed with this goodness and meekness are to be found to a greater or lesser extent in every community and even those considered to be of lowly castes are not devoid of this instinctive goodness. My reference here, however, is to the pure spiritual life that is born out of the living word of God, descends from the heaven and is backed by Heavenly signs. It is this life that is not to be found among Christians. What then is the benefit of the accursed sacrifice?
"Whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others), he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for such nor shall they grieve." (2:112)
This verse implies that a person who places himself in the service of God, totally dedicates his life to Him, and is active in the performance of good deeds, will be rewarded through his closeness with God. For such, there is neither fear nor grief. Thus, God will reward and make free from fear and grief a person who performs acts of goodness and employs all his faculties in the way of God so that his word, action, movement, rest and his entire life is solely for Allah.
When a person, with all his faculties, devotes himself totally to God then, without a doubt, he is blessed with the reward of a pious life. When a window is opened toward the sun, sunshine streams in through it. Likewise, when a man turns himself totally toward God, and all veils are lifted between man and God, a Divine spark alights on him and fills him with spiritual light and washes away all his internal impurities. This great change metamorphoses him into a new man and it can be said that such a person leads a pious life. The place to achieve this pure life is here in this world. Allah, Glory be to Him, refers to this in the Quranic verse:
"And whoever is blind in this (world) he will be blind in the Hereafter, and further away from the path." (17:72).
This verse shows that the spiritual faculties required to see God are taken from this world. Those who fail to develop these faculties here by confining their faith to mere stories and fables commit themselves to eternal darkness. Thus, to achieve piety and real salvation, God has taught us to commit ourselves totally to Him and fall down sincerely before Him. We must completely shun the abomination of taking a created for a God even if it means getting killed, cut to pieces, or getting burned, for in so doing we would certify to the existence of the true God with our blood. It is for this reason that God has named our religion Islam (submission) as it implies that we have surrendered ourselves to Him.
The laws of nature also testify that the way to purity and salvation taught by the Quran is in conformity with processes in the physical world designed to achieve similar objectives. It is common experience that plants and animals fed on a poor diet and deprived of good nutrition fall prey to disease. Nature has, therefore, provided for a preventive system that allows wholesome things to reach them while blocking the useless ones. For instance, the trees have two features that keeps them healthy. Firstly, they burrow deep into the earth with their roots so that they may not dry up by becoming detached from their source of nutrition. Secondly, they absorb water from the soil through the veins in their roots and obtain nourishment from it. The same principle applies to man in his quest for spiritual development. Only those are successful who, with sincerity and constancy, establish a firm belief in God, and by seeking His protection burrow deep into His love with their roots. With sincere repentance, they incline to God and in this way absorb, through their veins, humility and meekness, the spiritual water that dissipates the dryness of sin and removes their weakness.
There is no sacrifice more pleasing to God than that we submit ourselves completely to Him even if it entails embracing death in His path. It is precisely such a sacrifice that God has taught us to make. Thus, in the Quran, He says, "You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of what you love." (3:92).
This is the path to salvation that the Quran has taught us, and numerous heavenly signs testify that this is, indeed, the right path. Human intellect also testifies to it. It follows then that an affair proven by testimony must over ride a mere uncorroborated allegation. Jesus acted according to the teachings of the Quran, and was therefore rewarded by God. Similarly, those who lead their life by the holy teachings of the Quran will become like Jesus. This holy scripture is ready to make thousands into the likeness of Jesus and has already done so for millions.
Most respectfully we ask the Christian priests, what spiritual progress have they made by deifying a weak and helpless man? If they can substantiate some spiritual progress, then certainly their teachings are worthy of consideration. But if they cannot, then O unfortunate worshippers of the created! Come and see our spiritual development and accept Islam as your religion. Is it not fair to say that the one who possesses Divine testimony to his holy life, has clear knowledge, and immaculate love of God is the one who has the right on his side, and the one who relies only on fables and stories is an unfortunate impostor feeding on filth?
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of
Question Answered (Siraaj-ud-Deen Eesaee Kay Chaar
> Question # 1: How Salvation is